Travel to Ghanzi – Bushmen Capital of the Kalahari
Ghanzi is a town located in western Botswana. It is the administrative centre of Ghanzi District, and is known as the “Capital of the Kalahari”. Ghanzi is primarily a farming community that supplies the Botswana Meat Commission with most of the required beef produce. Travellers often bypass Ghanzi en route directly between Maun and Windhoek, but for those with more time and an interest in local people, this area is famous for its population of bushmen.
The Bushmen are an indigenous population of the Kalahari Desert, which spans South Africa, neighbouring Botswana, Namibia and southern Angola. They were traditionally a hunter-gather people (part of the Khoisan group) and are related to the traditionally pastoral Khoikhoi. Starting in the 1950’s though the 1990’s they largely switched to farming with only minor hunting and gathering activities. Archaeological evidence suggests that they have lived in southern Africa (and probably other areas of Africa) for at least 22,000 years, but probably much longer.
Genetic evidence suggests they are one of the oldest, if not the oldest, peoples in the world. The Bushmen groups suffered when formerly open land became game preserves or cattle ranches, restricting their access to wild foods, while governments and aid agencies continued to believe the “myth” that they gathered most of their diet, or even wished to do so (most did not).
August is the month for the annual farm show, which attracts many people from all over Southern Africa. Several lodges/camps in the area offer a ‘Bushmen’ experience which includes overnight accommodation and the chance to head out into the bush on foot to learn more about their traditional way of life.
Ghanzi is located 286 km southwest from Maun, on the main road that leads to Windhoek in Namibia, and 686 km from Gaborone.